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Music / Billie Eilish

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you should see her in a crown.

I’m the bad guy ...
“bad guy”

Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connellnote  (born December 18, 2001) is an American singer-songwriter born in Los Angeles, California. Her parents, actress Maggie Baird and Patrick O'Connell, are also both musicians.

Eilish's music, often described as "noir pop" for its world-weary tone and dark lyrical themes, is a unique brand of blues-y minimalist alternative pop featuring her signature breathy vocals as well as intricate, subtle sound design. The closest approximate label for this sound that many have taken to is Bedroom Pop, with Eilish being credited for paving the way for the genre to enter the mainstream. Her music is a collaboration with her multi-instrumentalist brother Finneas O'Connell, who handles most of the production.

Eilish's first viral single, "ocean eyes", was released in 2016 when she was fifteen years old, and was followed the next year by the EP dont smile at me. Her debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, became the most pre-ordered album in Apple Music history before its official release in March 2019. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, making her the first artist born in the 21st century to reach that slot. At the 62nd annual Grammy Awards in 2020, Eilish became the second person in history, after Christopher Cross in 1981, to win Record, Album, and Song of the Year along with Best New Artist in the same year.

In January 2020, she was announced as the performer and songwriter of the main theme of No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film. She's both the youngest singer and youngest songwriter in the history of the franchise. The song was released 20 months before the film itself due to the COVID-19 Pandemic delaying the release, and won several awards, including the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media in 2021, followed by the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song, and the Academy Award for Best Original Song the next year. This also makes her the first person born in the 21st century to win an Oscar.

In 2021, she was the subject of the documentary Billie Eilish: The World's A Little Blurry, released theatrically by Neon and on streaming by Apple TV+. Five months after the film's release, her second album Happier Than Ever was released in July of that year. 2022 saw her co-writing songs alongside O’Connell for the Pixar film Turning Red.



Bury a Trope:

  • Abduction Is Love: Played with in "hostage":
    I'll build a wall, give you a ball and chain...
    Just let me hold you.
    Like a hostage
  • all lowercase letters: A vast majority of her song titles are rendered in this style, including all tracks on dont smile at me and WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?. Most of the song titles from Happier Than Ever are rendered in usual sentence case, but "my future" is the lone exception.
  • And I Must Scream: Heavily implied in her tearjerker song "everything I wanted" which was inspired by a nightmare.
    I tried to scream but my head was underwater.
  • Animated Music Video: To her 2020 single, "my future," directed by Andrew Onorato.
  • Bait-and-Switch: From the bridge of "COPYCAT":
    Sorry, sorry, I'm sorry, sorry...
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: This is what the narrator of "I didn't change my number" thinks of her ex.
    You were easy on the eyes
    But looks can be deceiving
  • Blues: Her music could be considered the genre’s evolution into contemporary pop. The influence is most apparent in tracks like "xanny" and "my boy".
  • Caps Lock: The song "GOLDWING" is in all capitals.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: A noticeable theme in "NDA".
    Maybe I should think about a new career
    Somewhere in Kauai where I can disappear
  • Changed for the Video: The video version of "watch" includes a long pause before the first chorus as Billie's backup dancers rush to tie her up on her ladder.
  • The Chanteuse: The singing style, the melancholy style... if she adopted a dress, she'd be a perfect example.
  • Continuity Nod: The music video for "What Was I Made For?" (from Barbie (2023)) has Billie open up a Barbie doll carrier to reveal miniature versions of outfits the singer previously wore in other videos or performances.
  • Cover Version:
    • She performed an acoustic rendition of "You Don't Get Me High Anymore" by Phantogram on BBC Radio 1.
    • A cover of Michael Jackson's "Bad", produced by Like a Version.
  • Double Consciousness: Implied in "idontwannabeyouanymore" and its music video, which shows Billie confronting her reflection like another person.
  • Emo: Though softer and poppier, her music and aesthetic both have clear influences from the genre. Her songs are also often about self-loathing.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Sound effects used in her songs include everything from matches striking to traffic to Invisalign removal.
  • Evil Diva: Plays up this image, with many songs being about murder or conquest. Her biggest hit, "Bad Guy", is about how Obviously Evil she is.
    I’m the bad guy... Duh!
  • Fangirl: She has been a big fan of Justin Bieber ever since she was a child, and the latter eventually agreed to collaborate with her for a remix of "Bad Guy".
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The first half of the video for "Happier Than Ever" occasionally shows some leaking water dropping onto the indoor furniture and floor. The second half then shows that the house Billie is in has been submerged.
  • Gender Flip: "No Time to Die" sounds like a typical Woman Scorned song, but when you watch the movie, it becomes clear that she's singing from the perspective of James Bond himself and his rocky relationships.
  • Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter: Referenced in the lyrics of "bellyache":
    Where's my mind?
    Maybe it's in the gutter
    Where I left my lover
  • Indie Pop: Her style of music can be charitably described as this, but it's much darker, minimal, yet eclectic than the title might let on. Some critics describe it as "pop noir".
  • Lighter and Softer: Happier Than Ever flip-flops with this compared to WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP. Instrumentally, while still generally more subdued than most mainstream pop, it features a more eccentric mix of genres influences that are quite upbeat for Billie, with several beats inspired by the likes of Techno, Country Music, Bossa Nova, and Pop Punk. However, as described by Billie herself, "almost none of the songs on [the] album are joyful", still featuring weary, introspective topics influenced in large part due to her various anxieties and personal insights.
  • Love Is Like Religion: From the unreleased track, "6.18.18":
    You made me wanna pray
    But I think God's fake.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "8" sounds cheery but lyrically, it's about someone Billie hurt.
  • Lyrical Tic: If a line ends on a T sound, Billie will often wait a second to pronounce it, adding a percussive -teh to the rhythm.
  • Male Band, Female Singer: Her songs are effectively collaborations with her brother, Finneas O'Connell, mainly with Finneas on production and Billie as singer/songwriter.
  • Motifs: Ladders in the dont smile at me era. The EP's cover shows Billie sitting beneath a large red stepladder, and art for the individual songs shows her in various other positions on the contraption. Ladders are also featured centrally in the music videos for "watch" and "bored".
  • Murder Ballad: "bellyache", from the perspective of the killer.
  • New Sound Album: Happier than Ever, mainly for the sheer variety of different styles and sounds on display, as her previous album and ep had a more similar sound to each other with their electronica-embellished modern R&B tunes, Odd Future style hip hop production and some emo/alternative rock influences added to the mix.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Oxytocin"
    Cause I like to do things God doesn't approve of if She saw us
  • The Oner:
    • "Therefore I Am" is almost this, consisting of Billie being filmed on an iPhone getting up to mischief in a deserted shopping centre. The almost is due to her needing to take an trip on an elevator and the filmer needing to reposition themselves as a result.
    • "What Was I Made For" is a simple, one long shot of Billie sitting at a desk trying to put her miniature clothes on display while random freak weathers mess with her.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The Title Track from Happier Than Ever starts out as typical Billie + ukelele fare - until around 2:25 when the song swings rapidly to Power Ballad territory instead, complete with a Metal Scream or two towards the end.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Her singing style is often noted as being low-energy, bordering on sleepy. Subverted big time on "Happier Than Ever" (the song), showing her range includes Harsh Vocals and Metal Screams.
  • Pop-Star Composer: She and her brother have contributed songs to Pixar’s Turning Red and the Bond film No Time to Die.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • As the song "Happier Than Ever" builds its crescendo in the second half, Billie starts adding swear words into the lyrics until she finishes the song by screaming "Just fucking leave me alone!!"
    • One line near the end of "I didn't change my number" is "You got a lot of fuckin' nerve".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The track "Happier Than Ever" is an ruthlessly scathing one delivered to an ex who treated the narrator terribly, with the title referring to how she's only "happier than ever" when she's away from him. It's clear that she doesn't want to publicly air out all their dirty laundry, but with the fact he keeps targeting her after their breakup in an effort to make it about him, she puts him on full blast as a way to tell him to get out of her life forever.
  • Redemption in the Rain: The ending of "Happier Than Ever"'s music video.
  • Revenge Ballad: Implied in "watch", about unrequited love:
    I'll sit and watch your car burn
    With the fire that you started in me.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "bellyache".
    Where's my mind?
    Where's my mind?
  • Scatting: Billie does a bit in the beginning of "my boy".
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Most tracks feature multiple vocal layers of Billie, only occasionally supplemented by her brother.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Simple Score of Sadness: Many of her melancholy songs are very miminalist in terms of composition, often constructed with just enough instrumental to create "empty space" that draws emphasis to her voice and lyrics. "xanny", for instance, is largely Billie's voice (and accompanying self-harmonies) with a single controlled bassline, punctuated with distortion, piano riffs, and percussion at sporadic points.
  • Singer-Songwriter: She writes all of her own lyrics, except for a few tracks Finneas contributes to.
  • Slumber Party: The music video for "Lost Cause" is Billie and six of her friends having the time of their lives at one of these.
  • Song Style Shift: Common, with "bad guy", "GOLDWING" and "Happier Than Ever" featuring such a swap.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Not My Responsibility", which is a monologue about how she alone controls how she presents herself to the world.
  • Synth-Pop: Most of the music in her studio recordings is synthetic, or acoustic guitar.
  • Textless Album Cover: Both her first album and her EP.
  • Villainous Lament: "bellyache", where the singer is implied to have murdered her compatriots in a heist to keep the money for herself. According to Billie, the song is about "a psychopath who regrets being a psychopath but doesn't really care."
    Thought that I'd feel better
    But now I got a bellyache
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: "ocean eyes".
    I've been watching you for some time
    Can't stop staring at those oceans eyes
    Burning cities and napalm skies
    Fifteen flares inside those ocean eyes.
  • Wham Line: "Getting Older" starts off with Billie musing about maturing and getting used to dealing with fame and adoring strangers but one line at the end of the first verse rapidly sets in place a darker tone for the rest of the song.
    But it's different when a stranger's always waitin' at your door
    Which is ironic 'cause the strangers seem to want me more than anyone before
    Too bad they're usually deranged.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Who else would have "Pirate" as their middle name?


Video Example(s):


Advice from Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish gives a very good advice on how to cope with depression while playing with puppies in a Buzzfeed Celeb video.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre

Media sources: